News | 4 August 2022

Making Monomono

Monomono are used by Tongan communities in important cultural ceremonies and rituals, and are a form of Tongan koloa (treasures and wealth).

Woman standing infront of her artwork.
Artist Ane Nanasi Pahulu with her work Taimani (Diamond). It has four key sections that represent the diamond, and is one of Ane's top-selling designs.

Ane Nanasi Pahulu (Faleloa, Haapai) is an innovative maker renowned for her patchwork style of monomono pani (sewn quilts and bedspreads). Monomono means to patch and to build.  
 
In Tonga in the 1970s, Ane began with a basic square design, making monomono with other community women for the church elders to use as blankets.  

Aunty Muna Tofua’a, who was a leader in the Seven Day Adventist church, would bring bags of used clothing and distribute them to all the women to remake into monomono.

Tofua’a says, “when we give to elders, we call it a’ahi ki he kau vaivai – giving to those in need, that’s your service."

In 1988, Ane migrated from Tonga with her kāinga to Te Whanganui-a-Tara.  

Here, she continued making monomono as a member of the Tongan women's group 'Fefine Tonga'.

They would make koloa as a way to help with their kavenga (cultural obligations). This was done at the Newtown library where they would meet and make together as community. 

Woman and two small children.

At the heart of the practice, monomono is most importantly a gift that represents a life of giving, Ane says.

“I feel like when I make the monomono, I am building something from small pieces, making it something great by adding all the squares together to make a special gift."  

Some are regifted for special occasions, other monomono are purchased from Ane by other families, as gifts for their own kāinga.  

Close up of a quilt.

“Straight lines were always admired in monomono, but sometimes in life we go sideways. While we try to walk straight and do our best, the nature of life means that things are rarely straight and linear”, says Ane.

Ane’s work can be seen at her exhibition at Toi Pōneke Arts Centre, and gives audiences an insight into her design-thinking and making process. On display will be eight monomono pani, designed in reflection on the cornerstones of Ane’s life; home, family, Christ, and celebrating Tongan culture.

Her exhibition 'Making Monomono' runs from 13 August to 9 September, with the opening on Sunday 14 August at 11am.

Visitors are also invited to attend 'Making with Ane' sessions, every Wednesday from 17 to 31 August, between 11am-12pm, where she demonstrates making monomono pani. She will be joined by members of her family and curator Rachel Yates.  

Toi Pōneke Arts Centre is a creative space where the city’s art communities interact, produce innovative works, teach, and exhibit in the heart of Wellington. Visit ToiPoneke.nz for exhibition and public programme details.